DeSantis Suspends School Board Members for ‘Incompetence, Neglect of Duty, and Malfeasance’

Florida’s Republican Governor Ron DeSantis has reached his limit and suspended four members of the Broward County School Board for their “incompetence, neglect of duty, and malfeasance.”

The board members oversaw safety at Marjory Stonemason Douglass High School.

DeSantis blasted the board members for their failings that contributed to the February 2018 shooting at the school.

“It is my duty to suspend people from office when there is clear evidence of incompetence, neglect of duty, misfeasance or malfeasance,” DeSantis said.

“The findings of the Statewide Grand Jury affirm the work of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas School Safety Commission.

“We are grateful to the members of the jury who have dedicated countless hours to this mission and we hope this suspension brings the Parkland community another step towards justice.

“This action is in the best interest of the residents and students of Broward County and all citizens of Florida.”

DeSantis’s office also issued a statement that said:

Today, Governor Ron DeSantis suspended Broward School Board Members Patricia Good, Donna Korn, Ann Murray, and Laurie Rich Levinson from office following the recommendations of the Twentieth Statewide Grand Jury to suspend these board members due to their incompetence, neglect of duty, and misuse of authority.

Even four years after the events of February 14, 2018, the final report of the Grand Jury found that a safety-related alarm that could have possibly saved lives at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School “was and is such a low priority that it remains uninstalled at multiple schools,” and “students continue to be educated in unsafe, aging, decrepit, moldy buildings that were supposed to have been renovated years ago.”

These are inexcusable actions by school board members who have shown a pattern of emboldening unacceptable behavior, including fraud and mismanagement, across the district.

These suspensions are effective immediately.

Today, Governor DeSantis also made four appointments to the Broward County School Board in the place of the four suspended members:

Torey Alston, former Commissioner of the Broward County Board of County Commissioners and President of Indelible Solutions;

Manual “Nandy” A. Serrano, member of the Florida Sports Foundation Board of Directors, and CEO and Founder of Clubhouse Private Wealth;

Ryan Reiter, a U.S. Marine Corps Veteran and Director of Government Relations for Kaufman Lynn Construction; and

Kevin Tynan, Attorney with Richardson and Tynan, who previously served on the Broward County School Board and South Broward Hospital District.

The Twentieth Statewide Grand Jury was impaneled by the Florida Supreme Court in February 2019, following the tragic loss of 17 individuals at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School one year prior.

The Statewide Grand Jury was asked to examine four issues, including whether public entities and school officials committed fraud and deceit by mismanaging funds devoted to school safety.

In its final report, the statewide grand jury found that these board members mismanaged the SMART Program, a multimillion-dollar bond specifically solicited for school safety and renovation initiatives.

The Statewide Grand Jury also found that the Board was aware of serious problems with the SMART Program, including former Superintendent Runcie’s inability or unwillingness to manage those problems, yet did not take action.

In concluding and issuing its final report, the Statewide Grand Jury recommended the suspension of four current school board members from office.

The Statewide Grand Jury also mentioned a now-former fifth school board member, Rosalind Osgood, who is no longer working as a school board member, and is therefore not subject to the Governor’s executive suspension authority.

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By David Hawkins

David Hawkins is a writer who specializes in political commentary and world affairs. He's been writing professionally since 2014.

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